The Army of the Potomac – A Sharp-Shooter on Picket Duty

Media - 1966.48.81 - SAAM-1966.48.81_1 - 58572
Copied Winslow Homer, The Army of the Potomac--A Sharp-Shooter on Picket Duty, 1862, wood engraving on paper, image: 9 1813 34 in. (23.235.1 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of International Business Machines Corporation, 1966.48.81
Free to use

Artwork Details

The Army of the Potomac – A Sharp-Shooter on Picket Duty
Not on view
image: 9 1813 34 in. (23.235.1 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of International Business Machines Corporation
Mediums Description
wood engraving on paper
  • Landscape — tree
  • Figure male — full length
  • History — United States — Civil War
  • Occupation — military — soldier
Object Number

Artwork Description

Winslow Homer created an image of a Union sharpshooter while working as an artist-correspondent for Harper's Weekly during the Civil War. The soldier looks through the sight of a telescopic rifle as he searches for a target. Sharpshooters were called for duty when there was a lull in the action and weary soldiers from both North and South were resting. Reviled as "murderers" by both sides, sharpshooters usually were executed if captured. Years after the Civil War ended, Homer recounted his memory of peering through the scope in a company of Union sharpshooters. "I looked through one of their rifles once when they were in a peach orchard in front of Yorktown in April, 1862," he recalled. "The . . . impression struck me as being as near murder as anything I ever think of in connection with the army & I always had a horror of that branch of the service."

The Great American Hall of Wonders, 2011